ONS reveals Covid impact on print workers

Darryl Danielli
Friday, January 29, 2021

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed the level of Covid-related deaths across the print industry.

Coronavirus has impacted every corner of society
Coronavirus has impacted every corner of society

The government department analysed Covid-19 related deaths by occupation that were registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020 across England and Wales.

It compared Covid related deaths and all-cause mortality last year against the average number of registrations from all causes of death for the same time period between 2015 and 2019. The statistics were also split by sex.

The report used Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2010, which as well as generic roles also includes several print specific functions including: pre-press technicians; printers; print finishing and binding workers; paper and wood machine operatives; and printing machine assistants.

According to the study, among Covid deaths of people aged between 20 and 64 years across the five print specific job functions detailed, there were 18 Covid-related deaths, 17 male and one female. In terms of all-cause mortality the figure was 181, which includes the Covid-related deaths, which was well down on the five year average of 213 deaths per annum.

Other multi-sector, but related job functions included in the report were graphic designers; buyers and procurement officers; marketing associate professionals; van drivers; and postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers.

Across these five functions the picture was far more bleak with 175 Covid deaths and 1,326 total mortalities which was 22% higher than the five year annual average.

The breakdown also included multi-sector roles such as CEOs and senior officials and production managers and directors in manufacturing which collectively showed 55 Covid related deaths and 364 all-cause mortalities compared to an annual average of 299.

Function Deaths involving COVID-19  All causes of death Average all cause mortality (2015 to 2019)
Chief executives and senior officials 13 66 52
Production managers and directors in manufacturing 48 361 305
Marketing and sales directors 14 118 95
Graphic designers 6 85 88
Buyers and procurement officers 5 80 65
Marketing associate professionals 6 82 72
Pre-press technicians 0 4 9
Printers 12 106 133
Print finishing and binding workers 1 32 28
Paper and wood machine operatives 2 47 54
Printing machine assistants 4 25 23
Van drivers 99 800 642
Postal workers, mail sorters, messengers and couriers 68 441 379

Source: Office for National Statistics

The release of the ONS figures comes after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued an update to confirm it would continue its spot checks on workplaces throughout the new lockdown.

Speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4 last week, CEO Sarah Albon said the HSE had received more than 65,000 specific Covid related contacts since the pandemic began and had conducted more than 80,000 spot-checks as a result – a mixture of telephone/virtual and around 30,000 in person inspections.

“The vast majority of employers have been doing the right thing and have been trying to do the right thing," she said.

"But we have had to ask them to make improvements in somewhere around 5,000 cases."

One print boss told Printweek: "We have had two or three spot checks in the past six months – all over in 20 mins as we got a clean bill and they saw that we complied quickly, and off they went."

With fewer companies allowed to operate during the lockdown and the resulting likelihood of an increased frequency of spot checks on firms in sectors allowed to operate, the HSE has released a video on what to expect during a spot check.



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